Tour’s Longest Stage Goes to CSC’s Jens Voigt
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MONTELIMAR, France – Jens Voigt (CSC) of Germany won the longest stage of the Tour de France on Saturday after the second straight day of hot weather in southern France. Meanwhile, in the overall classification standings, Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d’Espargne) of Spain became the race’s seventh yellow-jersey leader.
Jens VoigtJens Voigt celebrates his win after the 2006 Tour’s longest stage.
Voigt, who finished last in the Stage 7 time trial, claimed the 230-kilometer (142.8-mile) 13th stage from Beziers in 5 hours, 24 minutes, and 36 seconds.
Pereiro, who began the day in 46th position, finished second in the same time. Sylvain Chavenel (Cofidis) finished third, 40 seconds behind the leading duo.
Pereiro, a 2005 Tour stage winner, assumed a 1:29 lead over Floyd Landis (Phonak) of Murrieta, California. Cyril Deesel (AG2R) of France is third, 1:37 behind.
Landis finished 29th amid the main field that finished 29:57 behind the winner.
Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) of Santa Rosa, California, is the next-highest American, in 15th place, 7:08 behind.
With temperatures in the mid-90s, Voigt and Pereiro were among a five-rider break that steadily built its advantage throughout a stage that included five category 4 climbs.
The Phonak team, confident in Landis’ abilities and conserving energy for the three stages in the Alps, was content to let the break build its margin to more than 30 minutes.
“I knew I wanted to be in the break, but I had no idea I would wear the jersey,” said Pereiro. “Of course, we will try to defend it, but I am content for now to have the jersey.”
Voigt, who held the race leader’s jersey last year, salvaged an unlucky Tour performance this far by his team. Cycling’s top-ranked team, CSC has only six riders left in the race. Four of the team’s remaining riders have crashed, leaving the squad depleted.
Carlos Sastre of Spain is CSC’s top-ranked rider, currently in sixth position, trailing by 3:21. Voigt is 51st overall, 32:38 behind.
“We had some bad luck, but the win is for team, of course,” said Voigt. “With only six riders left, it will be good for the morale. It takes a lot of pressure and stress off of us.”
Despite the heat, the stage began and finished with 160 riders. The field will ride the last of the three transitional stages between the Pyrenees and Alps on Sunday, a 180.5-kilometer (112.1-mile) stage from Montelimar to Gap. It includes four climbs, evenly distributed throughout the stage and including two category 3 and two category 2 efforts.